Manitoba Historical Society
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Loftus Morton Fortier

Compiled from material submitted by his grandson, Thomas D. Fortier

Manitoba Pageant, Autumn 1973, Volume 19, Number 1

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

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Loftus Morton Fortier - 1881

Loftus Morton Fortier was a Canadian who distinguished himself in many facets of life in his native country. Born in Kingston in 1858, his roots were deep in Canada’s past. His ancestors included Charles Aubert de Chesnaye who was a trader along the Atlantic coast and later a seigneur of Quebec on the Island of Orleans and Antoine Fortier, a navigator who also settled on Orleans. Descendents who moved to Upper Canada and became English-speaking were the grandparents of L. M. Fortier.

Fortier began a career in the civil service at the age of sixteen with a clerical position in the Governor-General’s office in Ottawa. At twenty-one he was transferred to the government office in Winnipeg. He married in 1881 and resigned from the government to become one of the founders of the tent settlement at Brandon.

Mrs. Fortier - 1881

The Fortiers made their first Brandon home in a tent on Ninth Street between Pacific and Rosser Avenues. Among their first visitors was the postmaster of Grand Valley who asked Fortier to look after the local mail. The Fortiers placed a soap box with a slit in its top on a table across the en-trance to their tent to form Brandon’s first temporary post office. Fortier was also a pioneer in the business community, running a retail store and real estate agency. In 1882 he was one of the framers of Brandon’s charter and a member of its first council. In addition he served as its first police magistrate from 1883 to 1887.

Fortier accepted a post in Ottawa with the Department of the Interior to organize the new Immigration Branch and to become its first chief officer, a job he held through the frantic years of western expansion in the 1890s and early 1900s. Following his retirement from active control of the department in 1913 he moved to Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia to establish maritime headquarters for immigration affairs. There on the site of old Port Royal where his ancestor de Chesnaye had traded in the seventeenth century he achieved a life-long dream of preserving the old French fortress of Fort Anne. His untiring efforts convinced the Canadian Government to make the fort and thirty-two acres of adjacent land a national historic park in 1917. After retiring from the government service in 1920 he served for many years as voluntary curator at Fort Anne. An article in the June 1, 1928 issue of Macleans magazine, “Fortier of Fort Anne” by Blodwen Davies pays fitting tribute to L. M. Fortier and his varied and distinguished career.

Page revised: 20 July 2009

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